North American pathway programs for Asian students
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North American pathway programs for Asian students

Studying abroad can be an exciting experience and international higher education is a thriving industry today. Universities in North America, a popular destination among foreign students, promise a high-quality education, extensive resources and are globally recognised for providing good value for money.

While the merits of a US university education are well documented, Canada is quickly gaining ground as it carves a solid niche for itself among the international student community. A high-quality and flexible education system, supported by high investment – Canada spends more on education as a percentage of GDP– has earned it the recognition as the second-highest investor in education among G8 countries.

Gaining entry into the best programs can be a challenge for international students. The barriers are manifold, with issues such as language or academic qualifications often standing between students and their university or career of choice. Pathway programs, also known as gateway programs, help students overcome these barriers. These ‘hybrid’ programs combine English-language training with for-credit modules that help fast-track entry into esteemed institutes that students might otherwise be unable to meet the requirements for.


Pic: University of Victoria - ESL

In the US universities are teaming up with private education groups such as Navitas and Kaplan who provide bespoke service specific to pathway programs. Across the border in Canada, institutes are rolling out university-specific foundation programs that allow students the opportunity to enrol in full-time degree programs upon completion. Schools such as the University of Victoria, University of Toronto and University of Saskatchewan have tailored their own pathway programs that enhance language and academic study skills, and allow international students to immerse themselves in a foreign culture and education system – the perfect preparation before embarking on a full-time university degree.

Canadian pathway programs also provide excellent value for money. At an average of C$11,903 for one school year (8 months), tuition is low when compared to other education hotspots such as the US and the UK. The approximate cost in neighbouring US for an academic semester in a university is US$15,000. Canada also has plenty of scholarships on offer for international students. And when considering pathway programs, there is plenty of choice in North America – from options available with private educators like Navitas who work with institutes in the US preparing students on a uniform structure that allow them to seek admission at a range of institutes, to pathways in Canada that provide more individual, institute-specific opportunities. These programs are often subject-focussed, offering students specialised for-credit modules – perfect for those who have the academic merit but lack the language skills to gain admission into the program of their choice.

While undertaking a preparatory program may seem like an extra year spent on education, these programs equip international students with the ability and confidence necessary to succeed in a foreign academic system. Pathway programs go beyond textbook learning to translate into a fulfilling experience, both academically and socially.


Pic: University of Victoria - ESL

Emily Lau from Hong Kong is the Assistant Guest Service Manager at the Sandman Hotel in Canada. She studied International Hotel Management at Royal Roads University: “I came to Canada from Hong Kong to study English and then I became very interested in tourism. I attended a presentation about the BA in International Hotel Management at Royal Roads and knew that’s what I wanted to do. The whole approach to education in Canada is so different. At Royal Roads, we were constantly encouraged to ask questions, do our own research, and bring new ideas to the discussions in class.”

Pathway programs are gaining popularity among international students as a gateway to a university degree or a successful career. While some students prefer to bring these skills back to their home countries, there are others who are keen to work in the West. Foundation programs are opening doors to a world of opportunity to international students who might find studying in an international setting daunting.

We have compiled a list of five leading pathway programs available across North America. These programs offer the best value for money to international students and are recognised for producing employable graduates. Students at these institutes experience a socially rewarding university life and complete their program of study with a new perspective on their careers.


An increasing demand for international qualifications has resulted in Asian students leaving their home countries and travelling to different corners of the world to secure the best education. And while traditional education destinations like the US and the UK remain popular, there is a growing desire to explore other exciting and vibrant locations for higher learning. One such up-and-coming education hotspot is Canada. Studying here ensures not just high-standards of learning, but a friendly environment and idyllic locations for travel. And one of the country’s leading institutes is the internationally recognised University of Victoria (UVic) in British Columbia. Read more…


Pic: University of Victoria - ESL


Northeastern University (NU) in Boston, Massachusetts, is a private research institute and home to 30,000 students. The university offers a range of pathway programs for international students preparing for bachelors or masters degrees, with students taking part in college-level English preparation courses while they continue their academic coursework. NU has two pathway programs: Global Pathways and US-Sino Pathway Program (USPP). The Global Pathway programs allow international students to follow an academic preparatory program that leads to undergraduate or graduate degree at the university in specialized areas of study such as Business and Social Sciences; Engineering, Math and Computer Science; and Physical and Life Science. The USPP begins in mainland China or Singapore and after successful completion, allows students to transition into several US universities, including NU, as second year students.


Florida State University (FSU) is a popular US university with an excellent reputation among foreign students for its high-quality education, excellent location and sought-after campus experience. Living up to these high standards, the university offers its prestigious Gateway Program. The FSU Gateway Program is the perfect choice for those students who are torn between studying in the US or the UK. Students are given the opportunity to complete their first year of study in the United Kingdom at FSU’s London campus, upon completion of which they are able to transfer to the Florida campus. Students can choose to study FSU’s range of undergraduate programs and receive extensive training and guidance for SAT and their visa requirements. Read more…


FSU Gateway Program, London Campus

Another option for students looking to pursue pathway options in the US is James Madison University. These programs are based at the International Study Centre (ISC) at James Madison University and include Foundation Diplomas, Pre-Master’s Program for qualified students, and Pre-Master’s Program for non-qualified students. While the Foundation diplomas include both English for academic purposes and an equivalent to first year university program, the Pre-Master’s for qualified students is a mix of academic English lessons, graduate study skills and an orientation to the US university system. The Pre-Master’s for non-qualified students acts as an academic bridge between previous educational qualifications and entry requirements for graduate studies. This flexible range of programs ensures there is targeted teaching according to the students’ requirements, making James Madison University a popular choice for Asian students.


University of Toronto in Canada offers an exciting pathway program for international students. The International Foundation Program (IFP) is a unique offering, combining conditional acceptance to the university along with intensive English training and for-credit courses. This is a perfect opportunity for those students who might have excellent academic standing but don’t meet the university’s English language requirements. Merging academic training and language fluency in an innovative manner, the IFP is a popular choice among international students.